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QPMA 'embracing a culture of change' at annual convention

The Quebec Produce Marketing Association will be "embracing a culture of change" at its 62nd annual convention, scheduled to take place Aug. 20-22 at the Fairmount Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City.

Sophie Perreault, executive director of the association, told The Produce News that "the theme of 'embracing a culture of change' will include culture in all of its meanings, especially in business, where it is changing rapidly. We're mixing cultures and doing business with different cultures all over the world.

"It has been a complete year, and a lot has been accomplished by our outgoing president, Christian Chouinard," Ms. Perreault continued. "There is no doubt that our new president, Stephan Dolbec, will be amazing."

In addition to numerous networking and educational opportunities, convention attendees will be able to partake in the many historical, cultural and outdoor activities that the venue, in one of North America's older cities, has to offer.

Ms. Perreault was looking forward to the convention returning to Quebec City's world-renowned Le Chateau Frontenac.

"This is a great time to be in Quebec City," she said, noting that the city celebrated its 400th anniversary last year and that many of the special exhibits and events that took place are still taking place this year. "We were in Quebec City in 2005, and I think everybody who was there remembers it fondly. We launched new traditions there," including the association's first industry brunch and the wearing of costumes at its Friday dinner dance.

This year the association "has a lot of surprises" that she hoped would become yearly traditions for future QPMA conventions.

The convention will kick off Thursday, Aug. 20, with a Presidents' Reception at 9 p.m. "We wanted to give a taste of French culture for the welcoming reception," Ms. Perreault said. "The reception will simulate the atmosphere of a [typical Quebec] pub, where we sing songs along with a singer."

On Friday, attendees will have a choice of three optional activities: a walking tour of Quebec City, a visit to the Aquarium du Quebec or a round of golf at The Lorette Golf Club.

Later that evening, attendees will be able to stroll through the "haunted Chateau" at a dinner-dance, where they will be invited to meet an assortment of characters from cartoons and films, celebrities and mythical beasts. Attendees are invited to wear their finest Halloween costumes.

Saturday's events will kick off with the QPMA's annual general meeting at 8:30 a.m., which will be followed by two workshops.

The first session will be presented by Jean-Francois Archambault, who will speak about Leadership & Social Entrepreneurship in a world where there is less and less public funding available to deal with pressing social issues. Mr. Archambault founded La Tablee des Chefs, a Quebec organization that rallied the agrifood and cooking industries around the idea of feeding disadvantaged and troubled youth in the province.

The second session, Winning the Challenge of Change, will be presented by Jean Gattuso, chief operating officer of Lassonde Industries Inc. and the president and chief executive officer of A. Lassonde, a division of Lassonde Industries Inc. and one of the country's larger manufacturers of fruit and vegetable juices and drinks.

Mr. Gattuso, who has 20 years of experience in the food business and who has won several business and entrepreneurship awards, will reveal some of the secrets of A. Lassonde's success to attendees.

The annual industry brunch will follow the workshops, and the event will recount the highlights of the industry from 2008-09 and honor a "remarkable member" of the trade.

A keynote address will be given by Steven Guilbeault, a founding member of "quiterre and the assistant general coordinator and a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace. Ms. Perreault said that Mr. Guilbeault will talk about responsible evolution and how businesses are affecting the earth.

The winner of the "I Love" contest, which congratulates the QPMA members that have best utilized the association's popular I Love 5 to 10 A Day promotional campaign logo and theme into their businesses, will also be announced at the brunch by the campaign's spokesperson, Julie DesGroseilliers.

Ms. DesGroseilliers will also welcome new QPMA members and will quiz attendees' knowledge of the myths and realities of fruits and vegetables. Marcel Lapointe, president of Ste.-Foy, QC-based wholesaler Mar-gi Fruit Inc. and a 63-year produce industry veteran, will be toasted at Saturday night's closing banquet, during which he will receive the QPMA's coveted Pillar of the Industry Tribute for 2009.

Keeping with the theme of change and evolution, but this time with the evolution of music in mind, attendees of the closing banquet will be entertained by Sylvain Cossette's 70s Show, which will pay homage to the great classics of rock with songs that topped the charts in the 1970s.

Following the banquet, attendees can visit the President's Suite, where they will have a chance to meet and congratulate outgoing president Christian Chouinard and the association's new president for 2009-10, Stephan Dolbec, who is president and general director of Patates Dolbec.